• Ten-year-old Australian coal-fired power plant written off as asset by owner

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

A Western Australian coal-fired power plant has been written off as an asset by one of its Japanese owners, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The 416 MW Bluewaters plant, which supplies up to 15% of the electricity used in the South West Interconnected System (that services most of the population of the state), is the most recently built coal-fired power plant in Australia, being only 10 years old. Sumitomo Corporation, which bought the plant together with Kansai Electric Power Corp for AUD$1.2 billion (US$910 million/€746 million) in 2011, has entirely written off its AUD$250 million share, and it is believed that KEPCO has done the same. Earlier in the year, a number of banks refused to refinance debts held by the owners, citing problems at the mine that supplies Bluewaters, as well as a reluctance to finance a project relating to coal. At the same time, price rises for electricity from the plant have been all but ruled out, and a growing share of renewables, particularly solar rooftop, in the SWIS grid has put pressure on the plant (though one would expect that the grid would value baseload power more highly with a higher proportion of renewables). Think tank the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has taken the write off as “an absolutely classic example of what we’re likely to see going forward across Australia and around the world” in terms of ‘stranded’ fossil-fuel related assets. At this stage there is no suggestion that Bluewaters will cease operating.